UK listeria outbreak linked to smoked salmon

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) are investigating an outbreak of listeria in England and Scotland that has been linked to smoked fish, such as smoked salmon.

As of 6th April, 12 reported cases have been detected, with 9 in England and 3 in Scotland. Currently, Wales and Northern Ireland have not recorded any outbreaks.

Initial investigations have established a link between the listeria outbreak smoked fish, including smoked salmon, through whole genome sequencing.

The FSA and FSS are working closely with retailers and their suppliers to determine the root cause of the investigation, telling SalmonBusiness that “cases reported various smoked salmon brands purchased from a range of retailers.”

As it stands, the agencies are not advising people to avoid smoked salmon or other types of smoked fish. Instead, they are urging caution when consuming and to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked before eating to minimise potential risks.

A full risk assessment is being developed by the FSA and FSS into the threat posed by smoked fish amid the latest outbreak. Although, the advice currently remains the same from the agencies that “smoked fish is a risky product in relation to listeria.”

“FSA and FSS are reminding consumers who are vulnerable to infection – including the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems – of our existing advice regarding the risks in consuming smoked fish,” a spokesperson for the FSS said in a statement to SalmonBusiness.

“Due to an outbreak of listeria monocytogenes linked to smoked fish, we are reminding people who are vulnerable to listeria infection – including people who are pregnant and people with weakened immune systems – of the risks in consuming smoked fish and asking them to make sure that the smoked fish is always thoroughly cooked including when served as part of a dish before they eat it,” Tina Potter, the FSA’s head of incidents, said.

Listeria is a bacterium that causes an illness called listeriosis. It is widespread in the environment and can contaminate a range of food at low or standard refrigeration temperatures. It can be destroyed by thorough cooking. It is of most concern in chilled, ready to eat foods that do not require further cooking, such as smoked fish